Sanofi’s Toujeo Drug Shows Promise as Lantus Successor

Sanofi’s experimental insulin Toujeo controlled diabetes better than the company’s best-selling Lantus in three tests that suggest the new drug may help buoy sales when the older one loses patent protection.

In an analysis of three trials of Toujeo, also known as U300, patients who used the drug had 31 percent fewer low blood-sugar incidents compared with those on Lantus, Paris-based Sanofi said in a statement. The data were presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in San Francisco.

Sanofi needs Toujeo to replace Lantus, which amassed 5.72 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in sales last year and loses patent protection from February of next year. The European Medicines Agency accepted Toujeo for review last month and the company has applied for regulatory approval in the U.S.

“Low blood sugar events, at any time of the day or night, should not be underestimated, particularly for those who are starting out with a new or alternate insulin therapy,” Geremia Bolli, a professor of endocrinology at the University of Perugia in Italy, said in the statement. “Reducing low blood sugar events in this particular phase is relevant in helping patients better manage diabetes.”

Night Risks

About 382 million people globally have diabetes, in which the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to convert glucose into energy, according to the International Diabetes Federation. About 10 percent of adult patients have type 1, in which the pancreas fails to produce the insulin it needs. The variant known as type 2 tends to strike later in life, brought on by obesity and sedentary lifestyles, as people become resistant to the insulin their own body produces.

Both Toujeo and Lantus are a type of insulin called glargine that’s designed to be longer-acting than other forms of the hormone.

Today’s analysis included data from trials of Toujeo dubbed Edition 1, 2 and 3 involving almost 2,500 people with type 2 diabetes over six months. Results from Edition 1 and 2 had been released previously. In Edition 3, patients who took Toujeo had similar blood sugar control as those receiving Lantus after six months, and the Toujeo group had 24 percent fewer drops in blood sugar at night than the Lantus group.

In a trial called Edition 4 among 549 patients with type 1 diabetes, Toujeo and Lantus achieved similar blood sugar control over six months, while those taking Toujeo had 31 percent fewer night-time low blood sugar events during the first eight weeks of treatment than those taking Lantus.

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